Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 70
When logging contractors assaulted myself and another conservationist back in 2008 in a violent outburst against our non-violent action, they were given merely 70 hours community service. When violent assaults take place daily against the forest and the animals who live there, no one is held accountable, there are no courts or sentences. No, none of the ‘criminals’ who destroy these ecosystems are put behind bars. Yet, when a committed conservationist takes peaceful action to bring attention to the destruction of our forests and he is locked in prison, it seems to me that there is something out of balance with our justice system.
Today Ali Alishah was sentenced to a three-month sentence for taking non-violent action in defense of Tasmania’s forests. Ali has already served 5 and a half weeks of this time behind bars, when he was denied bail in September last year. Tonight he will back in prison again, to serve another 6 weeks.
Ali was charged with breach of suspended sentence. And also given a further 3 month sentence suspended for two years on condition of good behaviour, for charges of trespass. Ali’s sentences are a result of his determined efforts to halt the destruction of Tasmania’s forest. He has no charges other than those that relate to such non-violent protest actions.
I have known Ali for a long time. He is a respectful, well-spoken and intelligent person who has dedicated his life to protecting Tasmania’s precious environment. The actions that Ali took that have resulted in today’s sentence included protests at Ta Ann. These actions have highlighted the company’s ongoing role in the destruction of Tasmania’s high conservation value forest. Ali also took action at the site of Gunns Ltd pulp mill, a project that has extremely strong community opposition.
As Jenny Weber said today outside the court house:
“people will continue to stand up for Tasmania’s forests.Our non-violent direct action people have been continuing in the forests, at Ta Ann’s offices and in a number of different ways while Ali’s been awaiting his sentence and we will continue to protest that the ongoing logging of high conservation value forests is unacceptable.”
Until Tasmania’s precious native forests stop falling we will not be deterred by imprisonment, nor threats of violence towards us, nor letters from Lara Giddings, not threats from the Legislative Council to withhold passing environmental legislation if we don’t keep quiet, none of it will deter the people of Tasmania who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that the forests are protected for all of us. Because these forests are too precious, too unique, too irreplaceable for us to just walk away and let them be lost forever.
We could be so close to seeing protection for Tasmainia’s forests, yet they continue to fall as rapidly as ever. We need to be speaking up and speaking out. We need to make sure the government is accountable for their broken promises and Ta Ann is accountable for their lies and misleading marketing, No, we will not be deterred, because we have the whole world behind us, calling for these forest to be protected. Inspired by last weeks action that saw over 70 actions across 15 countries all calling for Tasmania’s forests to be protected, we will continue to speak up for these forests. And over the next six weeks, while Ali is held in a prison cell, we will continue to speak out even louder!
Please support Ali while he is inside. Prison is not an easy place to spend time and he would benefit from your support. Details coming soon of how you can get a message of support to him. In the meantime please check out and “like” the support Ali Alishah Facebook page.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if when Ali is let out of Risdon Prison in 6 weeks I could meet him at the gate? That could happen if Julia Gillard and Lara Giddings honored their promises and Ta Ann also made the committment to transition out of native forests. Lets keep this campaign going loud and strong and see if we can’t that make a reality. I’m sure Ali would consider it a great way to show support for his efforts!